We're 10 rounds in and the pressure's heating up for NRL coaches, with Tigers mentor Mick Potter taking the extreme measure of benching Benji Marshall and Storm supremo Craig Bellamy still coming to terms with losing a game to Penrith. The pressure's building for Dream Team coaches as well... how else do you explain the fact that the most traded-in player of the week is unheralded Sharks winger Sosaia Feki?
I've been asked a ton of questions this week about Blake Ferguson, Ryan James, Ben Barba, Matt Gillett, Albert Kelly, Scott Moore, Benji Marshall, Josh Dugan and plenty more. For my answers, read on...
From Jarvis Zochling
Hey Scout, is Blake Ferguson the buy now that he is kicking, scoring tries and playing well?
You can rule out the goal-kicking soon, with Jarrod Croker due to return from injury in round 11, but Ferguson is still playing great at the moment and is getting a lot of involvement for Canberra from the centres. Last week's 83-point bonanza earned him a $41,100 price rise but his break even is still -26 this week, so now's the time to get him if you want him. Just don't expect him to score big every week.
From Zac Simons
Is it time to sell Ryan James?
Yes if you're playing to win your head-to-head league, no if you're playing for overall points. His price is dropping, but his Titans do play in the first two major bye rounds so he should be a handy scoring option for those weeks, particularly with a few other Gold Coast forwards away on Origin duty.
From Robert Chow
There are a few former DT guns that have dropped big money this year and seem to be bottoming out/or are close to it (eg. Barba, Issac Luke, Gallen, Mateo etc) would you recommend any that are must haves or even worth a gamble?
You've got to take the bye rounds into account when thinking about these guys. For overall points, Barba and Luke should be pretty good buys as Barba will play in all three big bye rounds (rounds 12, 15 and 18) and Luke will play in the first two. On the flip side, that means they'll be missing for head-to-head weeks (Luke will miss round 13, Barba round 16). So both are probably better buys if you are focusing on overall points.
Gallen's an Origin player so will miss round 12, 15 and 18, and will probably play limited minutes in the post-Origin weeks. His price is sliding fast anyway so I'd hold off for a while before considering getting him in.
And I'd stay away from Feleti Mateo. Too inconsistent for my liking.
From Brandon Riddell
Is Matt Gillett a keeper for the season or should he be upgraded?
That's the big question for all Gillett owners. I've got a rough rule that any player who scores 45+ points a week should be regarded as a keeper, and Gillett just squeezes into that category (he's averaging 46.78). Think of it this way: if he was a fullback with those kind of scores, he'd be second only to Greg Inglis. He's a good all-round back-rower who plays 80 minutes, although he's very likely to play Origin if that's something you're worried about.
If you don't care about his Origin workload, then I'd keep him. Trades are at a premium at this time of the season, and Gillett should be handy as a bench option at the end of the season at the very least.
From Jonathan Flavell
Is Thurston worth keeping? Is this the time to trade him prior to Origin?
Yep, with a break even of 75, now's the time to jump off Thurston. He's been solid this year but will obviously miss game time of Origin, and there are better options in the halves out there at the moment. Upgrade to Dream Team sensation Daly Cherry-Evans if you can.
From Daniel Chadwick
Hey LS. Who's the better pick up right now: Corey Parker ($497k, avg 67 over the last 5 games) or Sam Burgess ($391k, avg 52 over the last 5 games, but getting better)?
Again, I'll decide this one based on whether you're playing for head-to-head or overall. Parker is very likely to play Origin while Sam Burgess will play in both round 12 and round 15, so overall points DT coaches should pick up Burgess first. But if you don't care about the bye rounds, then Parker is the better scorer – so you should get Parker first.
Ideally, you really want to have Parker in your side by the end of the season, whatever happens, but both are great trades.
From Tim Bussoletti
Has Albert Kelly reached his peak? Is Hodkinson or Campese a better option to bring in?
Kelly has reached his peak, but he's a mid-40s scorer who will play in round 12 and 15, so I'm keeping him. If you want to cash him out then I'd lean towards Hodkinson over Campese at this stage, although both are undervalued.
From Praneet Namakal
With Scott Moore continuing to lose money, is Ben Hunt a good option to trade to?
Hunt is a tricky one. He's been picked at five-eighth this week but is likely to lose his spot in the halves when Scott Prince returns in round 11, and then he's back to being a bench hooker. Taking away last week's score (when covering for Prince at five-eighth), Hunt has only passed the 30-point mark once in seven games this season. That makes him a similar scorer to Moore, so I'd avoid unless you're thinking very short-term.
Moore has been a major disappointment this season, but I'd try to save up some cash to upgrade him to a genuine 40+ scorer. Issac Luke, Andrew McCullough and Michael Ennis look like the best mid-range options for the Origin period.
From Wei-Jin Wee
LS, what are your thoughts on Benji Marshall in a few weeks? Will probably drop below 200k and once the Origin period starts he should get his kick metres back which Farah has being stealing?
Yep, all true. He's going to be incredibly cheap, and should score well with Farah on Blues duty. But is he playing well enough to be a long-term keeper, or just a mid-season cash cow?
From Patrick Lai
Who should be traded for Jared Waerea-Hargreaves?
Any of Aaron Woods, Andrew Fifita, Brenton Lawrence, Sam Burgess, Trent Merrin, or James Graham, keeping in mind Woods and Merrin are likely to play Origin. If you need someone cheaper than Waerea-Hargreaves, then barnstorming George Burgess is your man.
From Cory Boyd
Is Tariq Sims a keeper and going to continue playing 80 mins?
I wouldn't quite say he's a keeper yet, but Tariq has been playing the full 80 for the past few weeks so there's no reason to think that will stop any time soon. He's been improving steadily and could be a gun by the end of the season.
From John Musso
Should I take a chance with Josh Dugan?
Not yet. He costs $365,000 and scored just 18 in his only game so far this year so I'd wait for his price to fall a little first (and for him to find his feet at a new club).
From Will Robertson
Have we missed the boat on Trent Hodkinson or not?
You've missed out on $73,800 in price rises if you don't have Hodkinson already but you haven't missed out altogether, with the Bulldogs halfback still great value at $216,700 for what looks like a mid-40s player. He's making a fair share of tackles, taking on a lot of kick metres, and he'll keep the goalkicking duties all season the way he's going.
That's the lot for this week. Good luck and happy trading.